Tips for TV Interviews

Last week I had the pleasure and privilege of being on a regional morning tv show to promote the book signing I did Saturday.

Terrified, nervous and on the verge of a full-fledged panic attack, I started doing some research in how to make the most of the interview.

I’ve never been on television before. I had no clue what I was doing or what to expect.

So I Googled things like “what to wear on TV” and asked questions of fellow writers who had some experience in this sort of thing.

After a week I had so much conflicting information about what to do and not do, my head was swimming.

One resource I found that had some good, solid info was this printable list from Media Training Worldwide.

I also want to share the top things I think helped me the most:

Practice, practice practice! I can’t stress this enough. If you, like me, hate (HATE) having your picture taken, you are probably not very comfortable with a camera in your face. Practice having a camera in your face. Captain Cavedweller spent an hour each evening several evenings prior to my interview standing with our little camcorder in my face asking me questions. The first night was positively awful. Worse than awful. Wretched might be a better description. But the more I practiced, the more I sounded confident and less like a blathering idiot.

Have a script written out. I’m not a think-fast-on-your-feet-and-come-up-with-a-witty-answer kind of person. I like to mull things over and word things just so. That doesn’t work for an interview. If possible, see if you can get a list of questions the host will be asking you. That really saved my bacon. I had time to write out what I wanted to say, memorize the key points I wanted to highlight and practice saying it on camera. Captain Cavedweller, bless his heart, was game to ask me the same handful of questions over and over until I could respond with out too many “ums” or awkward phrasing. (See practice, practice, practice!) You can’t take the script with you on camera, but at least you can have rehearsed what you want to say.

Know how to say it. How you deliver your message is nearly as important as what you say. If your voice is too quiet or monotone, people will quickly change the channel. The years I spent doing home parties through a direct sales program have taught me to speak up, speak clearly and speak with a range of tone so the words you are delivering aren’t flat.

• Be animated and excited. If you’re excited about whatever it is you are doing or promoting, others will be, too. Put your best game-face on and show some enthusiasm while you are interacting with the host. No one cares that you had to drag your weary self out of bed at 3 a.m. to get to the studio on time. They want to be entertained and engaged. So be entertaining and engaging.

• Find your weak points and fix them. Apparently, when a camera is thrust in my face, it causes something to trigger in my brain that makes me blink my eyes about a bazillion times a minute. This is not good for tv appearances. In addition to the eye-blinking issue, I also have a horribly habit of saying “um” while I decide what it is I do want to say.  I also roll my lips together when I’m thinking which makes me look like a homeless person who lost their teeth on camera. Not a good thing. While you are practice getting used to the camera, take some time to observe any habits or actions that will make you hide in embarrassment after your interview. Then make a conscious effort to overcome them.

• Wear something that makes you confident. One of the things I obsessed over the most was what to wear to the interview. The conflicting suggestions I had included “don’t wear bright colors, don’t wear pastels, wear bold colors, wear pastels…” I finally asked the TV host for suggestions and she said to wear whatever I was comfortable in. She suggested not wearing anything with a pattern or stripe. That was the best advice. Wear something that fits you well because you don’t want to be tugging on a sleeve or fussing with a collar that doesn’t want to stay just so. Wear something that gives you confidence. We all have our “power” outfits. Pick one of those. That will carry across much more than worrying about what specific color scheme will look the best under the glare of studio lights.

• Be yourself. If you aren’t someone who spouts off witty one-liners with ease, don’t try to do it during your interview. Be you. Be real. Be authentic. That was the sage advice Captain Cavedweller kept telling me. “Just be you, you’ll be fine.”

• Have fun! It’s not every day you get invited to promote yourself or your products on TV. Enjoy the unique experience for what it is and have fun with it. If you luck out like I did, your TV host will make you feel smart and funny and very much appreciated.

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